cover image Day of Delight: A Jewish Sabbath in Ethiopia

Day of Delight: A Jewish Sabbath in Ethiopia

Maxine Rose Schur. Dial Books, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1413-7

Laden with information, this picture book introduces a fascinating, little-known population of black Jews who live in the mountains of Ethiopia. Schur (The Circlemaker; Hannah Szenes) takes readers through the various rituals performed by each segment of the community to prepare for the Sabbath. In meticulous detail, she describes food, chores, clothing, customs and activities, peppering the text with Ethiopian words and phrases. The sheer volume of information overwhelms and occasionally supplants traditional narrative; the value of this work lies in its economical evocation of an entire way of life, not in the telling of a specific tale. An author's note at the end explains the history and status of this small group, whose members call themselves Beta Israel, ``Those of the House of Israel,'' but who are known as strangers (``falashas'') to other Ethiopians. A glossary and pronunciation guide is also included. Pinkney's (see Dear Benjamin Banneker, reviewed above) signature scratchboard illustrations celebrate the African roots of the Beta Israel with affecting visual images that are startlingly at odds with more familiar depictions of more familiar Jewry. Ages 6-10. (Oct.)